Church Schools: Prototypes for U.S. Inner Cities?

In 1978, I lived in Mexico City at the Benemerito School, which is owned and operated by the Church. .) It included dorms and classrooms, facilities for academic, artistic, and vocational training. It was a beautiful campus (some students earned their tuition by caring for the grounds), filled with LDS Mexican faculty, most returned missionaries, who were eager to educate younger Latter-day Saints–many of whom I met later at BYU. By then, they were returned missionaries themselves, ready to continue their education. Benemerito was an oasis.

When I taught at BYU-Hawaii, I learned more about the Liahona School in Tonga, because many of my students–not just from Tonga but from other islands like Samoa or New Zealand–had gotten their education there. That school seems much like Benemerito.

In some ways, BYU-Hawaii was the culmination of everything Liahona students were preparing for. Located in Laie, a town which was once a refuge and safe haven for escaped prisoners, the little university continues to offer a safe, well-maintained, friendly center of education–a refuge indeed. More importantly, it provides a way for students from tiny islands to pay for their schooling. They work at the attached Polynesian Cultural Center. They might do janitorial service, perform native dances, lead tours, or serve ice cream–but they have a way to cover their tuition.

I thought about these schools last week when I spent some time in Detroit. There, I saw a magnificent charter school which prepared its students academically and artistically to enter careers or to pursue higher education. The principal, an elegantly dressed woman who was clearly in control, seemed to know each student by name, and would scold quickly when there was any misbehavior: “Have some pride!” The school was her dream, and she had done what she needed to (using bond money) to see it realized. But that school stands in stark contrast to others in the inner city, where even the path to the school door might include rapists or bullets. And home might be a shabby apartment with a television and a refrigerator amply stocked with liquor. (It was striking to see the juxtaposition of churches and liquor stores in downtown Detroit, and spoke to unmet needs and deferred dreams in tragically poignant ways. Hope and sedation.)

We are in an era of charter schools. I put my daughter in one because she was simply falling apart in the public school setting. Though charter schools often use a lottery or audition system for admission, they are here and they are growing.

Why can’t we as a church–or simply as Latter-day Saints–use the prototypes from Mexico, Tonga and Hawaii to build schools in the inner cities? We have the human resources: our missionary force. At BYU-Hawaii, professors are often missionaries teaching the subjects they’ve taught for years, but doing it now in a spirit of consecration without expectation of compensation–at least not monetary compensation. Even the missionaries we send out are capable of teaching subjects other than what’s in _Preach My Gospel_–and they already have a service day.

I am writing this inside a lovely office in a magnificently appointed building on BYU’s campus, and I’m feeling guilty being surrounded by such luxury. Might the funds which made this building have been better used elsewhere, where the need was greater?

I have not mentioned political barriers, which do enter into the picture. As I’ve thought of all the hurdles such a dream must take into account, I keep telling myself: “Nothing is impossible with God.” But love must conquer fear, and faith must pave the path. Can we do this? We have done it in the past–magnificently. I think the right minds, the most tested organizers, the most imaginative dreamers could find a way to create more schools which would educate the mind, feed the soul, and strengthen the weak. How can we NOT engage in so great a cause?

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  1. I guess it begs a question — which could be/would have been more vital to the growth of the Church: BYU or inner-city schools? I’m assuming the Church would have to pick one…

    And should we start with Latin America, as opposed to the US? Costs are cheaper, less of a leadership base…

  2. Natalie B. says:

    I’d be all for more investment in inner-city education. However, I’m wondering if missionaries would really be the best human resources to staff such a project. I don’t know how it currently works at the schools you have mentioned, but key to a successful school would be teacher retention and, in my opinion, attracting talented, younger teachers who could also be role models. Teachers at inner-city schools have very high attrition rates, and we would really need to make sure that we could support and train any teachers that we sent to be there for the long haul.

  3. Margaret Young says:

    Good point, Natalie. At BYU-H, there are full-time faculty members supplemented by missionaries (senior couples).

    Queuno, I’m talking only about the U.S. in this post. I’m aware of several schools started up in Latin America (in fact, I taught at one) by returned missionaries who saw the need for literacy among the people they had come to love.

    As far as I’m concerned, BYU is here and stable. It ain’t going away anytime soon. As long as our football team wins a few games, we’ll get enough donations (along with tithing) to keep solvent. The greater challenge by far is in the inner city. We get the cream of the crop at BYU, frankly. I have students who whine about any grade below an A. In other areas, the simple act of reading words and visiting beautifully imagined realms is a gift still to be given WELL and received fully. The Book of Mormon starts out talking about the importance of education (I Nephi 1:1). We can do more to provide for those with the greatest need.

    I’m not at all sure we need to choose between BYU (which caters to young people who are already privileged and academically advanced) and inner-city charter schools. We send missionaries everywhere if the government allows visas and if it’s safe. The attitude of going into all the world should surely apply to all of the gifts and talents we’ve consecrated to God’s use.

  4. I think it’s a wonderful idea, Margaret. The English system already allows faith groups to run schools with part state funding. How great it would be for the church to run one or two excellent schools in the UK. Visionary even. A great way to rescue us from irrelevance over here.

  5. I am not sure I understand your point. Is it that you have a favorite charity/service that you think is more deserving than something the church or church members currently finance or use their time for?
    No matter what we are talking about (need for better inner city US schools) there is always a need somewhere else that someone else thinks is greater.
    I do not see education as being the first job of missionaries. Bringing the gospel to people is their first priority. Often, when a person accepts the gospel they are able to improve their lives because they have greater purpose and motivation.
    It is true that the church does get involved in community and member services (employment, english classes, humanitarian aid, etc.) but that should not replace missionary sharing of the gospel.
    I love education but I will not pass on buying my child a book because other kids can’t read. I do not think we should stop creating art because some people don’t have paint, or stop learning because other people won’t have as many chances as we do.
    I do not know how to fix the poor public schools in this country. I know that there are many, many wonderful public schools (my children attend two of them). While I didn’t vote for Obama, I do have hopes that he can effect some change in education for those who are in bad schools like you describe.
    Being a really good principal or a teacher takes amazing talent. I don’t think everyone has it. My friend’s husband attended an LDS school in Mexico, possibly the very one you think so highly of, and did not have a good experience, but there were no high schools in his hometown so he had no choice.

  6. Margaret Young says:

    Ronan, I was under the impression that people in the UK were BORN educated.

    Serious question: Is there the same need for an educational refuge area in England as there is in inner U.S. cities? I saw uniformed school children wherever I went in Elgnald. I don’t know, but it seemed to me (naively no doubt) that education was a given in the U.K. In some inner cities here, we deal with a drop-out rate of over 50%–possibly much higher. I believe we are still reaping the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow’s indignities. If England, which also tolerated slavery, doesn’t have the same consequences, what has protected it?

  7. esodhiambo says:

    Why can’t we as a church–or simply as Latter-day Saints–use the prototypes from Mexico, Tonga and Hawaii to build schools in the inner cities?

    1–there would likely be little will among LDS to sacrifice greatly to build schools where they do not live and which they would not use
    2–The immense suspicion of our Church among many inner city residents (African-Americans) would likely prevent them from enrolling in our institutions
    3–The greatest single factor for kids dropping out of school is feeling that the school and curriculum are irrelevant to their lives; this is unlikely to be helped if the workforce are old white people from the intermountain west who, frankly, often have a hard enough time connecting with LDS in their “mission field” wards, let alone kids from other worlds
    4–The contention (I think it is pretty indisputable, but others would disagree) that charter schools actively destroy surrounding public schools by pulling resources in the form of money and motivated students and community members.

    I could go on and on, but you probably don’t want me to.

    The schools you mentioned were built in a void of educational institutions (either an actual lack of schools or a lack of schools which would educate LDS kids); the Church has resolutely (and wisely) encouraged members to obtain educations within their communities.

    I would jump all over the idea of the Church pouring money into education, though. I just think they ought to work to improve the public schools.

  8. In the United Kingdom, it is legal to leave school at age sixteen. You have to “choose” to go on to keep going to school through age 18.

  9. StillConfused says:

    I had never heard of the school in Mexico City. It sounds divine. I honestly doubt that would fly well here in the States because of all of the rules, regulations and what not. But I think it is great in countries where the circumstances are different.

  10. Margaret Young says:

    Here’s a principle of writing: You may produce many pages of pure junk and arrive at only one good sentence. But that sentence can become the beginning of a superb work–and worth all of the time you spent writing badly.

    I am brainstorming after taking in a range of experiences in Detroit. I’m certainly not suggesting that I’ve come up with the ultimate solution, but it’s a starting point. There may be only one good sentence or idea in my opening post, and I think some of the objections raised are valid. (I ignore all comments which are merely dismissive.) I do know the creative process. It has to start with a dream. Then you figure out how to make the dream become reality–which includes a lot of revision. Process without the dream equals pretty much what we have now in many schools.

    I was not at all sure I should post this blog, given that I’m still at a very naive stage of understanding the extent of the problems and the complexities of their solutions, but I thought I’d give it a go. It was probably a mistake. But there might be at least one good sentence.

  11. esodhiambo says:

    Please forgive me if you felt my comment was dismissive. Education is my field and so most of those objections flow freely from my fingers–I would not expect someone from outside the field to have as much background to see some of the potholes so evident to us.

    I applaud your concern. As I already stated, I would eagerly support the Church contributing significantly to education in needy places in the US. There are 2 big issues that are major obstacles:

    1–one-of-a-kind institutions such as Oprah made in SA or the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation have created in numerous US cities serve an extremely limited population (AND, very importantly, one that can be dismissed back to regular public schools at the first hint of any misbehavior–as is true with all Charter schools and is the reason they cannot be compared with public schools which MUST and strive to teach ALL). They cannot be emulated because no one has the resources to recreate them. Their every success further serves to show the surrounding community what they can never have or create without the deep (and foreign) pockets available to that one school.
    2–the idea of instead donating large amounts of money to a dysfunctional school system (and isn’t it amazing how dysfunctional our inner-city systems tend to be compared to their neighboring suburban systems?) would also seem foolish.

    I have much more interest in the idea of the Church charitably giving to needy schools than in the idea of Mormon Charter Schools.

  12. Margaret Young says:

    Eso–I thought you made good comments. I did not find you to be dismissive but instructive. I am eager to learn.

  13. Margaret,
    I applaud you for seeing a need, having a dream, and trying to stimulate some ideas to possibly make a difference.

    Whatever the cause, I don’t think there is an easy solution. I have heard that the “Knowledge Is Power Program” or KIPP ( has been very successful. There is no need to re-invent the wheel, so perhaps some of these successful programs can be duplicated in more areas.

  14. Antonio Parr says:

    I have often thought that the biggest impact that the Church could ever make in a large, northeastern U.S. city, would be to open up a school in an impoverished, African American neighborhood, and bring as teachers and administrators retired LDS educators whose missions would be to stand as a light to the world to a community that has known deep suffering and sorrow. The impact on both the givers and the receivers would be extraordinary.

  15. The concept behind Charter Schools is what makes them so hard to understand for many. They are public schools. They do not charge tuition. They are not private. They are subject to the same laws regarding access, discrimination, core curriculum. What is different is how and why they are administered. They are free to focus on a certain theme, goal, or population. They are free to administer their particular school according to their needs–something that mainstream schools just can’t given the reality of the larger district administrative structures. These qualities can be so attractive that districts will even charter their own schools.

    There are downsides also to these smaller independent schools. Unrealistic expectations from desperate parents, smaller economies of scale, financial challenges, inexperienced administration. And, unfortunately, in some cases such as in Utah, charter schools are seen by some as an atractive end run around the public school system by creating de facto “private” schools with public funding that can discriminate under the table against undesireable students.

    There are some unfortunate stories surrounding charter schools and some great success stories. What is clear is that some students find great success in a charter school in contrast to their prospects in a mainstream situation. Research shows that students who are highly impacted by risk factors such as socio-economic stresses, ethnic minority background, or different abilities are very well-served by smaller, community-connected, focused schools in contrast to America’s large mega-schools.

    Margaret’s musings on the dream of serving perpetually underserved populations is noble and I believe exactly where our efforts as upper middle class believing Christians ought to be.

    May I suggest we avoid the common well-intentioned hope of well-meaning white who want to volunteer and “go into” these areas to “save” these kids (and I mean white in the sense of the metaphorical social construct of power). The problem with this model is that these nice volunteers will inevitably leave and go back to their nice lives. Missions come to an end. These impacted communities need the permanence of those who will invest their lives in the community.

    In much the same way the Gates Foundation works to accomplish school reform, I do think the church can be the catalyst in laying the foundations for new institutions. But, for long term success these schools must become a part of the local community, pro-actively building administration and faculty from the ranks of the community. And that takes a long time and requires a commitment by the church that may take generations to pay off.

    We can’t embark on these projects because they make us feel good, but rather because there is simply a compelling moral need.

    LDS-church schools such as Benemerito and Liahona are not so much “church” schools, but rather locally grown and maintained schools “owned” by the community and local culture. In fact, that is the reason these schools are regularly under review by those who feel they don’t represent the mission of the larger church. But, it is clear they do amazing things for the lives of many individuals that I believe pays off for the church and society in later generations.

  16. Margaret,
    Alas, your view of English state education is overly rosy.

  17. Margaret Young says:

    Ronan–I rather suspected I had a rosy view of it, but y’all do put on a good show.

    I fully agree that good schools in any challenged area will be home grown and run by those who know the students well, understand what they’re facing, and are fully and permanently committed to being there. Missionaries can still perform service, but permanance is vital if any school is to succeed. And I have too often found great condescention among “let me save you” adventurers.

    I don’t know how much hope there is for public schools in some inner cities; it might be better to simply start over because bad patterns are so ingrained. I do know there is a need and I know that we mustn’t ignore it. I also know that I am in a reactive posture right now, seeing tremendous disparity between the rich and the poor in that one location, wanting to do something or at least to generate ideas, and simply making a few stabs in the dark.
    The easy answers are rarely the right ones.

  18. Interesting idea.

    Aren’t the church schools in Polynesia and Mexico primarily for church members? Wouldn’t that present limitations as a model for inner city schools where, presumably, there would be few church members?

  19. My daughter graduated from USU in education a couple of years ago and has chosen to teach in a Title 1 school. She speaks spanish very well and so can be a real help to some of the students who are struggling with english. I am very proud of her for deciding to teach in that kind of environment. If more of our young people would make that kind of choice we wouldn’t need to establish separate schools because all schools would have quality teachers.

    Another idea, perhaps some of our members could establish pre-schools in inner city areas. Starting to educate a child when he or she is very young will have the greatest impact. Many churches in our area (NE US) run daycares during the week. Our buildings sit empty most of the time.

  20. Margaret Young says:

    I like what Noray suggests about daycare centers. I know of at least one church in an inner city which includes a school–K-12. I’m quite sure there are others. I would love to find out more about how these schools function and how well they succeed.

    Indeed, Benemerito and Liahona are primarily for church members. And there are relatively few in the inner cities. There are some, however. (Retention is a huge issue.) If this idea–or these ideas–have any merit, the prototypes will undoubtedly start small, just as they did in Mexico and Tonga. I wish there were a BYU-something in the midwest or the east. SVU (Southern Virginia Haven) is a lovely little haven, for example, and was started with someone’s dream. He also had some wealth, of course.

  21. Margaret Young says:

    Southern Virginia University, that is. My brain and my fingers are not quite working together yet.

  22. As a firmly middle class white young adult who lived in inner city Detroit for a year in the early 2000s, I applaud your intent. These third world pockets within our country is where we, as a relatively resourced population, probably ought be spending more time, money, etc.

    That said, I’m curious if you had the chance to visit any of the (I’m assuming there are still 5) branches in Detroit during your visit. We attended one of the more functional ones. 4 callings (at once) and a year later I was burnt out. The needs were so great – adult literacy issues, chronic unemployment, transportation issues, food security issues, a branch president (the only from within leadership in the bishopric I might add) constantly coming onto the younger new converts, members who were squatting in homes and thus living without heat (you could tell because of the fireplace smell surrounding them) and electricity much less phones, I could go on and on.

    By far the most frustrating thing regarding the church during our time there was the lack of acknowledgment from the suburban stake. Our chapel was about a 1/2 mile away from the city (and suburban stake) limits, two blocks in from the main drag that the temple sat on several miles out in one of the most wealthy cities in America. I remember being invited to a suburban stake RS event…. they were putting together different types of “kits” for some S American country as the service event. I remember being profoundly embarrassed when trying to explain on the ride home to the other 4 poor, african american women in my car why they weren’t sending the kits into our city, community, even branch.

    Sure, there were local couples who were called on missions to attend the branch – and in doing so gave a lot to the community. But even the elderly missionaries lived in the suburbs – as if the race and class divide wasn’t already apparent. It was a rough ride. We ended our stay in Detroit a year after it began… similar issues that mirrored those I’ve described in the branch at the college DH was teaching at just made it too much. We moved to another city, job, etc.

    Sorry to be a downer. I guess what this (what has turned into a very long) comment is trying to say is that educational, charter school politics aside, I don’t see how we can realistically expect to see LDS members support an educational system for the neediest when some of the wealthiest members in the entire US living 5 miles away refuse to acknowledge that needy members exist in their backyard. It would require such a cultural shift… I just don’t know.

  23. One more thought. I thought I remembered hearing in the past couple of years that the church was shutting down some of these schools… I’m thinking the particular one was in New Zealand?

  24. Margaret:

    First, I think the idea itself is wonderful. Having lived in DC for six years (and, yes, sent my son to public school there), I think that such an effort could have a tremendous impact.

    I’m surprised there is no mention so far of the various private Catholic schools found in inner cities and urban settings. The decades-long debate over vouchers is driven in part by low-income families seeking tax breaks or outright subsidies for the tuition they pay for such private schools.

    That said, I think such an effort would be politically impossible here in the US. There is sufficient suspicion towards the Church from both the Secular Left and the Religious Right that I think the Church would have a hard time getting any support either from the community or from local and state politicians. Look at the problems the Church is having with building a stake center within DC city limits, including vocal opposition from other churches.

    Beyond that, as others have already noted, the Church appears to be getting out of the pre-college school business and instead using the Perpetual Education Fund to allow members in developing countries to avail themselves of local educational resources. So perhaps the real question is: would the Church allow the PEF to be used by inner-city (US) members to attend private schools (including Catholic schools)? I suspect that would have a much greater impact per dollar spent than the Church setting up a few private schools of its own in selected cities. ..bruce..

  25. Margaret , your heart is in the right place, but I believe the task is just too big for the Church to handle it this way.
    I would like to see BYU take a national lead as a teachers college. RMs could continue their lives/studies and still contribute in the education of the youth. (Add nursing and elder care to that.)

  26. Bruce–using PEF at non-college levels is an interesting idea (and a huge can of worms), but I think Margaret is proposing we educate the city population, not the LDS population (I am sure there is overlap, of course). Most kids from LDS homes (stable, nurturing, focused on education, etc) will do well enough regardless of their surroundings. It is the kids who lack such security she wants to serve (I think).

    As I have been thinking about this, I wonder if a city might be better served by business/economic investment than by outsiders mucking around in their school system. It is quite remarkable what a community that has good steady employment can offer their kids.

    RE: KIPP–again, this is a program which will not admit many kids public schools much educate (ESL kids, Special needs, chronic behavior issues, etc) and can eject at will anyone they want (because they have the safety net of the regular public schools). That is why they do so well–they have a very limited and hand-selected population. Charter schools are not the answer if we maintain our commitment to universal education, which I do.

  27. esodhiambo says:

    Bob–I love your idea. While I was there, the education program was actually at risk of losing it’s accredidation! Can you believe it? What a shambles. The money and attention was all funneled toward the business school and new science buildings. I just don’t see Christ getting an MBA.

    I would LOVE to see BYU become a leader in education, nursing, or any of the caring careers. Better yet, I’d love to see young LDS interested in investing their live in those professions.

  28. #27: I know I am dating myself, but my wife started her nursing career at LDS Hospital, and loved seeing her check signed by David O. McKay.

  29. Back when I was teaching at a very challenging west side Salt Lake City middle school we had a small group of BYU dept. of education interns who were going to “help” and observe for a few weeks. On the first day there, they left before noon and never came back.

    I also would love for BYU to make a strong commitment to education and the kinds of professions that can change the world. As someone else mentioned above, that would require a cultural change and that comes from leadership.

    As long as we have anecdotal GA quotes circulating around the Tanner Building about needing MBA’s to make money so the church can do it’s mission, then we’ll have a struggling Dept. of Education.

    Regarding the comments about charter schools–in most places in the country they are used as a way to provide an alternative for poor low income kids. But in Utah, the battle seems to center around the desire of some to create psuedo private schools funded by the public, but for the purpose of escaping the local neighborhood schools.

    I teach at a Utah charter school (which is also a TITLE I school) that actively recruits from MESA programs and seeks out students who may be the first in their family to go to college. This puts us at odds with many other charter schools in Utah, but that’s the beauty of a charter school. You can just go your own way and focus on your own vision for what your students need. I appreciate your dreaming, Margaret. In Utah, dialogue about education seems to arouse NIMBY reactions or fears of those “other” kids–in the legislature it usually involves beating up on teachers. But, there is such a need in this country, especially in inner cities, for quality educational interventions. We are losing children and wasting lives with this unequal distribution of educational opportunities.

  30. I find the phrase “unequal distribution of educational opportunities” to be quite chilling. Since when was anything in this life completely equal? What would an “equal distribution” look like? Would it actually be an improvement?

    In the Savior’s parable of the talents the master’s servant were given very different talents. The master was equally happy with two of his servants who had used their talents and gained more, even though one of them did much better than the other. The master was displeased with just one of his three servants: the one who hid his talent and did nothing with it.

    It appears to me (a parent of 4 kids) that we are doing a great job destroying our educational system by trying to make everyone equal in it.

    I know and like many teachers, but I have also met many very Christ-like individuals who are not professional teachers. Some of them were even (wonder of wonders) MBAs! I enjoy teaching Elder’s Quorum and mentoring co-workers, but I also find doing engineering to be quite wonderful. It takes a lot of people doing a lot of different jobs to keep a civilization going.

  31. I find the ongoing tragedy of inner-city Detroit and other ghettos to be quite heart rending, but I don’t think the Church has the resources to improve schools there as much as inspired individuals and local groups can. I wouldn’t be surprised to see LDS Humanitarian Services make donations here and there, but the mission of the Church has been pretty well defined as Perfecting the Saints, Proclaiming the Gospel, and Redeeming the Dead. There is a lot to do!

    The Church used to run many high schools (and elementary schools as well I think) throughout the Intermountain West. My understanding is that these schools were turned over to local governments in the early 20th century in an effort to improve public schools and integrate better with non-Mormon neighbors.

  32. #30: ” I find the phrase “unequal distribution of educational opportunities” to be quite chilling.”. Why is that? I live in LA. If, on a Sunday, (no students or teachers), I took you to an inner city campus and then to a white middle class one, you would have no problem knowing where you were. Why is that?
    I don’t know what “equal” would look like either. But I do know what unequal looks like.

  33. Margaret Young says:

    Thanks all. Some really good ideas and good critiques of my starting point.

  34. Thank you, Bob, for moderating my response a bit. Tom D. represents one cultural viewpoint regarding inequality. I believe we can shift to a new viewpoint.

    The principal at my school recently made a comment as he was musing on this same topic of dreaming for a better society, the inequality our society tolerates, the devastation of poverty, and people complaining when we put extra social effort into helping the unfortunate or disadvantaged–“Equality isn’t everyone having the same, it’s everyone having what they need.”

  35. Bob,
    My main problems with the “unequal distribution of educational opportunities” are
    (1) The process of making everything equal tends to force them to be the same. At least that seems to be the main result of No Child Left Behind. I don’t want identically poor schools.
    (2) Who defines what is taught and how? Is it the student, the parents, the teacher, the bureaucracy, IQ/vocational tests, tax payers, a king, the Gadianton Robbers? Who decides? Who pays?

    A more basic question perhaps is this: Is “improving” the schools in inner cities even the *best* way to help people in inner cities? Isn’t learning the gospel and keeping the commandments the best way to really improve someone’s life? Isn’t that what the Church is already trying to do?

    Perhaps we could do this better with LDS parochial schools where seminary is a required subject :-). LDS parochial schools could be done in places places like the UK (or NZ) where those type of schools are common. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the US has been very committed to secular, public education. Perhaps that will change, if US schools continue to deteriorate despite the ever larger amounts of money that are thrown at them.

    I rather like this quote: “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the
    people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. … Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.” (“Born of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6).

    Looking for this quote led me to a previous discussion of this topic:

  36. If the Light of Christ within a child is buried under years of poverty, hunger and possibly even abuse, how can it shine brightly enough for the adult to recognize gospel truths? We won’t be a Zion people until poverty is eliminated and all here on earth have an equal chance to follow Christ, just as we give them an equal chance on the other side of the veil through proxy ordinances. Native intelligence, hard work and perserverance will still matter even if we are all equal coming out of the gate. Being equal does not necessarily mean being the same.

  37. #35:I guess we all agree: this is a many headed monster.
    But there is nothing bad about the inner city people! They, for the most part, love their family, work hard, go to church more than most Mormons. I see no problem with their souls. In fact, it was this kind of people that build the Mormon Church. Not the rich, not the well educated. I have worked all my life with inner city people, and found them mostly wholesome.
    Don’t worry, “The poor will be with us always.” I just wanted to put a good word in for them.

  38. Margaret Young says:

    IV Nephi